- Museum number
The young Weisskunig instructed in the Black Arts; Maximilian and his tutor standing at centre, to left an old witch with a devil, on right a monk with an angel. Above two books containing the secrets of astrology suspended from two stars. Early proof for an illustration to 'Der Weisskunig'.
- Production date
Height: 219 millimetres
Width: 199 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Corresponds to plate 23 of the 1775 edition.
On the Weisskunig project in general see Curatorial Comment for Y,8.164. On Burgkmair's contribution see Curatorial Comment for 1858,0417.974.
See also Giulia Bartrum, 'German Renaissance Prints', exh. cat., BM, London 1995, no.142a.
T. Falk, 'Hans Burgkmair. Das graphische Werk', exh. cat., Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Augsburg, Augsburg 1973, no.181.
Text from Bartrum 1995
Literature: Bartsch, 80; C.Dodgson, II, p. 93, 56; Burkhard 125; Musper 25; Hollstein, 443
'Der Weisskunig' (the white, or wise, king) is the most extensive of the Emperor Maximilian's unfinished works. It is an idealised biography of Maximilian, with two early sections on the life of his parents, and his birth and education, which were compiled by Maximilian's secretary, Marx Treitzsaurwein, and a longer third section dealing with the political history of Maximilian's reign, for which the Emperor himself was primarily responsible. All the characters are given pseudonyms, many of which are derived from their heraldic arms; thus for example, Maximilian is the Young White King, Frederick III the Old White King, and the King of France is the Blue King. The text was dictated by Maximilian to Treitzsaurwein and has survived in various manuscripts in the Österreichische National-bibliothek in Vienna (see 'Maximilian I, 1459-1519', exh. cat., Vienna, 1959, pp.26f, with literature). Its confused state is reflected in the woodcut illustrations which were carried out at Augsburg under Peutinger's supervision. Some subjects were cut twice, others were omitted, and some represent subjects not in the text, as far as it was completed. Out of 236 illustrations, of which 223 of the blocks have survived (Vienna, Albertina), Burgkmair was responsible, according to Dodgson, for the design of 121. The other main designer was Leonhard Beck; Hans Springinklee and Hans Schäufelein contributed a few designs each to the project (see 1837,0616.308). The blocks were cut between 1514 and 1516 by a group of cutters supervised by Jost de Negker, and a few contemporary sets of proofs have survived, the most important of which are in Vienna, Stuttgart and formerly in the Liechtenstein collection, now in Boston (see Musper, pp. 102ff). In 1526 Maximilian's grandson, the Archduke Ferdinand, commissioned Treitzsaurwein to complete and publish 'Der Weisskunig', but this plan was frustrated by Treitzsaurwein's death in 1527. It was not until 1775, after the blocks had been found at Graz, that it was published in book form by Hoffstätter in Vienna (Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, inv. no. 1850,0511.955 to 1191).
There are ninety proof impressions of the series in the British Museum, which also would have been taken while work on the blocks was in progress during the life ot Maximilian (see Musper, p. 66). This and 1849,1031.247 are two of the forty-three proof impressions of designs by Burgkmair. The young White King, who represents Maximilian, is instructed here in the art of astrology; suspended from stars above him and his teacher are two codices which contain the secrets of the art. The figures in the foreground are allegories of magic, represented by a witch with a devil sitting on her shoulder, and religion, represented by a figure of a monk with an angel above.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1995 Jun-Oct, BM, 'German Renaissance Prints, 1490-1550', no.142a
2014-15 Sept - Jan.London, BM Witches and Wicked Bodies
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Der Weisskunig
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number